Why you should register as a voter

Monday February 13 2017

 register as voters

Residents of Kahawa West queue to register as voters at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) centre on January 24, 2017. The deadline is tomorrow. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MICHAEL MUGWANG'A
More by this Author

It is hard to fathom how one can hate oneself so much so as to declare oneself inconsequential in the society where one lives.

It is even harder to comprehend how a person of sound mind would reject an opportunity to determine his or her own future and that of his or her children.

It gets catastrophic if the number of such individuals in a country of 44 million hits four million and counting.

Such people cease to be problems to just themselves, but become a menace to society.

How else would one explain the fact that after three weeks of the “overpublicised, overmobilised and overdramatised” effort to get people to register as voters and take up the only weapon for determining how the affairs of their country are run, some four million adults of sound mind have chosen not to do so.

To enlist as a voter is free; it has always been. It is continuous and open for everyone who has attained the age of 18.

Offices of the electoral commission are always open five days a week for those of age to walk in and get enlisted.

The offices are in each of the 209 constituencies and have full-time officers paid by every Kenyan taxpayer to work.

Most of the time, the officers stay idle because the people who hired them to work are not making themselves available for the service.

GRAFT CLAIMS
Realising that little effort is being made by the intended beneficiaries of its service to get it, and the set opportunity to choose or be chosen as leaders, is fast approaching, the electoral commission decides once in a while to take “the services closer to the people” by organising mass voter registration drive.

They take our money and hire more people, buy more equipment and literally follow us around begging us to take what is ours. And four million of us still refuse?

I am reminded of an instance a couple of years ago when a compatriot just missed an opportunity to become a senator for the very simple reason of having failed to register as a voter.

She lost the chance of grabbing a job many would consider a dream.

And the country lost a chance to benefit from her evident brilliance and talent.

I thought that was a wake-up call to all of us Kenyans, but I have, in time, been proven wrong.

We refuse to learn not only from the bad experiences of others but also from our own.

I have met friends, relatives and professional colleagues who argue, sometimes convincingly, that with the crop of political leaders we have, it is futile to participate in elections.

One close colleague actually cynically argues that waking up on the polling day to line up behind a thousand other voters who do not hold “any values and yardsticks” to choose a leader other the “a hundred shillings dished out to them the previous night, is a total waste of his time since his vote fades in comparison with the thousand “bought” ones.

It is an argument that keeps coming up in my interactions but one I will not tackle today.

But tell me, why don’t you just get the vote first?

What is there to lose by walking some 500 metres to a registration point, getting your biometrics taken and reclaiming your power to lead?

NOW OR NEVER

Isn’t it better that you refrain from voting but retain your power to choose?

Would you rather be like the lady leader referred to above who saw her enemies use the fact that she had not registered as a voter to deny her a chance that had been brought to her by the gods on a silver platter?

Last Tuesday, the electoral commission, in its weekly update on the voter registration, to be concluded today, revealed that out of the targeted 6.1 million voters, only 2.1 million have enlisted.

That was at the end of the third of the four-week campaign.

Of course the 6.1 million does not represent all the Kenyans who had not listed by the time the mass voter registration started.

It is just what the electoral commission considered realistic.

However, the reality is that many more millions of other eligible Kenyans have not registered and most likely do not know that they deserve the power to vote.

Fellow Kenyans of 18 and above, there are some hours left for you to get armed with a voter’s card.

Please go get it or forever keep shut up.

It will be so offending for those of us who will vote to hear any of you who have chosen to give up your power, complain that some MPs, for instance, have allocated themselves billions of shillings of your money as taxpayers for “time not served”.

Mr Mugwang’a is a communications consultant based in Nairobi. E-mail: Michael.mugwanga@gmail.com Twitter: Mykeysoul